Legend of the Pah (5)
By Jane Hyphen
‘A parcel came for you,’ Lynne said dryly without looking up from her laptop.
‘Ah good, yes the new car battery for my old Audi.’
She glared at him for a few seconds then shook her head. ‘You must be mad.’
‘Well it won’t move without a battery, it’ll sit there forever. Anyway, I’ve got some good news.’
Lynne looked up, frowning slightly as if she’d immediately decided that the news must be bad instead. ‘What good news?’
‘I don’t need to go to that appointment after all.’
Lynne knew full well what appointment he was referring to but she couldn’t resist the opportunity to be passive aggressive. ‘What appointment?’
‘The “squeezy tubes” appointment, the one you booked with that woman from the pub!’
‘What do you mean, you don’t need it, Alistair?’
He took off his coat, dropped his car keys on the table and sat down. ‘Well, Barry from work said it takes at least twenty ejaculations before…..’
‘What?’ Lynne held her hand up to her brow, ‘Do you mind not talking in graphic language like that, it’s not even six o’ clock yet!’
‘Lynne,’ he lowered his voice to a whisper despite there being nobody else in the house except for Solo who was sleeping in the lounge. ‘You have to do it twenty times or more before it’s effective. That means, by my calculations, based on the law of averages, you will be well into menopause by the time we’ve done it the required number of times. So what I’m saying is that my procedure is pointless because we barely ever have sex anyway.’
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes before snapping, ‘Well, that’s because every time we have sex somebody dies.’
Alistair paused and coughed a little. That was a strange thing to say but it was sort of true, there had been two occasions in the last year when they had done the deed only to wake up the following morning to the news of a sudden death; Aunty Pauline died of a stroke and Mick the neighbour was killed by a scaffolding pole. These incidents had made them a little reticent about physical relations of any kind. It was as if they had been given special powers, cause and effect, you might call it.
‘I wonder who it will be next time.’
‘Don’t talk like that Alistair. You can ejaculate into a jam jar twenty times, after you’ve had the procedure I mean.’
‘You don’t have to save it up! Although…..maybe that will lift the curse.’
Alistair took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. He took off his jacket and replaced it with a bobbly old navy blue fleece. He noticed that the kitchen seemed different, it was very tidy for the time of day, there was a distinct lack of mess and clutter. ‘It’s very tidy in here. What’s for dinner?’
‘Chickpea curry or Chana Masala as it’s known in the Indian subcontinent.’
‘No, times they are a changing Alistair, keep up or get left behind.’
‘Do I have time to change the car battery?’
‘You can eat it whenever you like, it’s sitting in that pot on the stove. I’ve already had mine and tidied everything up because I don’t want to eat anything after five thirty because it’s very ageing to eat on a full stomach.’ She tapped her stomach and nodded.
‘Now that the boys have left home I don’t see why I should wait for you to come home. Plus I’m trying to cleanse my innards, both physical and mental. You eat when you like, I’m going upstairs to bathe in Epsom Salts.’
Alistair stood very still and attempted to absorb the shifting dimensions of his world. He lifted the lid on the stove and witnessed little beige chickpeas dancing while being boiled into submission. It appeared to him a crueller sight than that of a sausage squirting jets of fat under a grill and suddenly he found he’d lost his appetite. The familiar smell of his favourite tea bags was the only comfort as he made himself a brew and headed to his workshop with a fluttering in his loins and a sense of heady anticipation.
He opened up the main double doors onto the driveway, he meant business, he wasn’t just going to sit in the wormhole, the sanctuary that was his car, he was going to get that spaceship moving and travel into another dimension. There was a lot to do but he was fired up, motivated, organised.
One activity seeped effortlessly into the next; oil change, sparkplugs, cylinders, battery, he syphoned out the little bit of old fuel in the tank and transferred unleaded fuel from his Volvo. He chucked in some of the mysterious fuel additive which he’d had sitting for a while on a shelf which hopefully would lessen the effects of giving the poor vehicle what was effectively the wrong blood type.
After everything was done he sat inside the car and savoured the moment. He pictured the freckled features of Red Tim grinning at him, ‘Look after my car,’ he’d said, grinning in his green Adidas sports jacket. The key in his hand seemed to be producing its own heat, he glanced down at it and decided to give it a quick wipe with an old cloth he’d had stuffed into the door pocket. It slipped into the ignition without friction, he held his breath as he turned it.
There was a little roll in the engine then it burst into life, he revved it a couple of times, the cells in his body buzzed at the sound. He became aware of a bad smell, a toxic plume at the rear but it soon cleared and then the sound of the engine was drowned out by music. A familiar tune played, is that inside my head? Alistair wondered. The radio had been top of the range when the car was manufactured and it remained a facilitator of quality sound.
The Travelling Wilburys were one of those bands which he wouldn’t have gone out of his way to listen to, he’d never purchased a CD or downloaded their music however when he heard it on the radio it somehow spoke to him. “Handle me with care, I’m so tired of being lonely, I’ve got so much love to give…” He found himself humming along, bopping around in his own little world as he put the car into reverse and edged carefully out of the driveway.
There was a part of him which wanted Lynne to get up from her laptop and come to the window. He so wanted to see her face peering out in anger as he drove away, he wanted even to beep the horn and give a little flapping wave but there was no sign of her. Even repeated revving of the engine didn’t entice her although a few neighbours were twitching their curtains. The whole operation gave Alistair an immense feeling of power but he couldn’t risk taking his eyes off the road for more than a glance. There were many parked cars around and the dimensions of the Audi were quite different from his Volvo.
Once out on the main road everything felt so open and free. The song continued to play. “Everybody’s got somebody to lean on….” All the Wilburys singing together for the chorus. Alistair thought how much they sounded like the muppets, he pictured Fozzie Bear, Sweetums and Gonzo. He then felt sad as he remembered how many of the real band members were no longer living. That’ll be me soon, he thought.....but not quite yet.